Remember, always take baby steps. This is the key to reaching all of your personal goals and making your dreams come true. If you retain nothing else from all of your reading of how-to books and listening to the endless assertions of self-improvement gurus, remember this—no matter how many miles you have to go or how many hours you have to spend toddling on down the track, baby steps will get you there.

Want to quit smoking? Mark your finish line at quitting by the end of the week and work your way down gradually to not smoking at all. Wean yourself off with daily goals. Cut down by smoking fewer and fewer cigarettes every day. For example, if you’re usually a pack-a-day smoker and you decide to quit on a Monday, make a goal to stop completely by Friday. For Tuesday, work at only smoking fifteen cigarettes instead of the usual twenty. To do this, try to leave more time than usual between lighting up. Then, by Wednesday take it down to five or ten. Stretch out your time not smoking even longer and convince yourself that there are some times when you don’t really need to smoke at all. Keep cutting yourself down more and more until giving it up entirely seems not like a giant leap, but like the logical next baby step. For some of those unwanted cravings, try busying yourself by working hard towards a different personal goal.

Need something to do with your hands instead of smoking? Try an artistic hobby, such as writing or drawing and painting. Put your hands on the keyboard instead of bothering with a cigarette and type a story. Put a poem or a song down on paper or compose that novel you’ve always been meaning to write. If you just can’t seem to come up with something to write about, find a random article topic on the internet. Or you could choose any word or object that suits your fancy and start motivating your fingers to dance across the keys getting out anything that pops into your head. Jotting down random lines as they come to you and writing about tidbits of your day will also bring you a long way into writing. That novel doesn’t have to be done tomorrow either. Pace yourself. Write for an hour or so every day; bump it up to more if the words keep coming and skipping a day if you feel the need or have a terrible case of writer’s block isn’t all that bad—just make it up in the next day or two. Before you know it, the end of the year could produce your very first masterpiece.

Have an artistic eye? Put your visions down on canvas. Paint whatever your heart desires. If an image isn’t there, a couple colors and some shapes arranged the right way could make you the next Picasso. Not so artsy by nature? That’s okay too. Sketch an object or two every day, work your way up to more difficult images and faces. Then, once you feel comfortable, move on by adding more mediums; pick up that box of paints and splatter it on an old shed wall. If you get stuck on ideas or just can’t seem to make the picture look how you want, gander through your local bookstore or online for how-to sketch books. You can make yourself the artist you always wanted to be just by taking that one baby step each day.

Feel the need to make the world a better place? Start by making yourself a better person. Be nice to people on a regular basis. Hold the door open for one person today; make room in the elevator for one more. Smile at everyone you walk past down the street and greet them with a friendly ‘how do you do,’ for every kind word and smile you spread can make  their day a little better and their lives a little easier. Believe that all the joy and love you send out to the world will someday circle around back to you. Then, if every person was nicer to one person more, we’d all be happier and enjoy life each day that we live it simply because every individual baby step adds up to much more than one person could ever run alone. Hold hands with your significant other when you stand in line at the grocery store. Hug your kids a bit more and tell them you love them as often as you can. Play with them in the backyard when it’s sunny and nice, but don’t be afraid to jump in puddles and dance when it’s pouring down rain. Enjoy every second you spend with the ones you love the most and love every second you spend with new people who decide to step into your life, even if just for one day. This will make you a more fulfilled person and the world a little better of a place to live in.

But don’t forget to save some time for your own piece of mind, to just relax by yourself and breathe. This time can be spent just admiring the grass or you could use it to dig into the depths of your mind to figure out what you really think about the life you are living and what you want to change in time. Decide what you would like to do with your life to use all of the talent you possess. Think about where you would like to be and set out your plan to get you there. Give yourself time to work things through, but never give up on the dreams you have undertaken to become a new you. It may seem a long ways off, a hundred thousand miles up the mountain and back, but as long as you keep walking a bit every day, achieving those many little goals until the largest goal is gained, just don’t stop moving and stay motivated all the way because those tiny baby steps will get you there.